London Knights-Owen Sound Attack: the tenth time is the charm

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How disturbing is this late knight’s passing out? Even Owen Sound extracted a pound of flesh.

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London have beaten the Attack nine straight this season, but the Bayshore Bears finally broke through in the season finale, 5-4 before 8,531 on Friday at Budweiser Gardens.

The Knights’ fifth straight loss cost them a first shot at winning the OHL Midwest Division title and the second seed in the Western Conference in the playoffs. Windsor – imagine that – actually helped London by chasing Guelph, leaving the Knights one point away from claiming the crown.

“They (the Attack) played a solid game,” said London striker Cody Morgan, who recorded his second consecutive two-goal outing. “If we lost to a team nine times and beat them for the first time at the end of the season, we would be pretty excited. I can’t blame them.

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“It’s frustrating to lose again. We have another game on Sunday (against Guelph) and we’ll put this one in the rearview mirror.

If they don’t finish the Storm themselves, this last week of the regular season is starting to look a little uncomfortable. The Attack, on the other hand, felt like pulling a grand piano out of its back.

But on reflection, it was kind of a bittersweet reminder of their early season struggles against the same club.

“One in 10 isn’t bad,” Owen Sound coach Greg Walters joked. “I spoke to the guys and won every game against London – 2-1, 3-2, 5-4 in shootout, 2-1 in overtime. If we only win four, we will fight for the division lead. That’s how close we were.

“We’ve got 10 guys sick and four out of the lineup, but they’ve competed for the most part. It’s good to get a win against them and it’s a good reminder of what playoff games will be like.

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ANOTHER SHORTS: After a goal late in the second, the Knights were granted a five-minute power play when Igor Chibrikov was given a match penalty for a cross-check that dislodged London striker Landon Sim’s helmet . They even got away with it, which was disheartening.

Morgan tied the game early in the third, but Owen Sound’s Nick Porco broke away to slide a shorthanded goal under London keeper Owen Flores with just two seconds left on the penalty kill. It’s the second straight Friday the Knights have dropped a crushing tally while on the power play.

“I guess we were a bit too offensive and got mixed up a bit,” Morgan said. “I thought our power play was good and we were moving it. It was a small misadventure. It’s nobody’s fault and it sucks to see one come in.

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The Knights pushed late with Flores on the bench for an extra forward and captain Luke Evangelista made it a one-goal game with 20 seconds left. It was his 54th league-leading scorer of the season.

But the rally ended there.

“We created a lot,” Morgan said. “All four lines were working. Their goalkeeper (Nick Chenard) made some big saves. A few defensive mental errors cost us the game. You want to win them all, but that doesn’t always happen. Our goal is to go to the playoffs. In a few weeks, when we start the playoffs, it’s the games that matter to us.

“Hopefully we can land the division here (and put it to rest).”

This single point is now a grinding wheel around their neck. Once they get it, they can really start looking forward to the playoffs.

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Judging by the last two weeks, it doesn’t matter who draws London. Nothing will be easy.

AROUND THE ICE RINK: Walters watched Chibrikov’s cross-check on tape and feels the initial contact is on the shoulder before it goes up to Sim’s head. “I hope they (OHL) see the same thing,” he said. London defender Gerard Keane is coming off a three-game suspension for similar play at Guelph and Flint’s Riley Piercey was given five games for his cross-check last week at the Bud. The Firebirds, of course, scored the winner while killing him. . . The Knights are seeking their 11th Midwest Division title in 18 years. As of 2004, Erie has three, Kitchener two, and Guelph and Owen Sound one each. It’s been one of the top divisions in junior hockey for many years, but this time around it’s behind the West Division. . . Evangelista finished with 13 goals in 10 games against the Attack. . . The Knights will have a say in who they face in the first round. They have upcoming games against Kitchener and Sarnia. . . The Knights must decide on Saturday whether to loan Flores to the London Nationals Jr. B for Game 3 of their playoff series against St. Thomas or give him a day off. He blanked the Storm in Guelph on March 27 – London’s most recent victory.

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rpyette@postmedia.com

Attack 5, Knights 4

Owen Sound Goals: Nicholas Porco (2), Julian Fantino, Ethan Burroughs, Colby Barlow

London goals: Cody Morgan (2), Antonio Stranges, Luke Evangelista

Next: The Knights take on the Guelph storm Sunday at 2 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.

Friday

At Budweiser Gardens

Attack 5, Knights 4

First period

1., Owen Sound, Fantino 3 (Goure) 9:50

Penalties – Okitundu, Os, Porco, Os, Evangelista, Ldn (raw) 7:18, McCue, Ldn (stumble) 14:46.

Second period

2. London, Stranges 30 (Evangelista, Morgan) 4:17 (pp)

3. Owen Sound, Burroughs 29 (Goure, Guindon) 12:38 (pp)

Penalties – Machacek, Os (edging) 4:05, George, Ldn (edging) 8:26, LeSage, Os (fighting), Chafe, Os (raw, 10 min misconduct), Federkow, Ldn (fighting), Evangelista , Ldn (cross check), Montgomery, Ldn (rough) 11:37, Baber, Ldn (rough) 12:38, Chibrikov, Os (cross check, match foul) 19:35.

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Third period

4. London, Morgan 26 (Stranges, McGurn) 3:17 (pp)

5. Owen Sound, Porco 23 (unassisted) 4:34 (sh)

6. Owen Sound, Porco 24 (Machacek) 11:24

7. London, Evangelista 54 (Keane, Morgan) 17:16

8. Owen Sound, Barlow 29 (Guindon) 17:55 (en)

9. London, Morgan 27 (Stranges, Evangelista) 19:39 (pp)

Penalties – Morgan, Ldn (high sticking) 12:39, Uens, Os (fighting), Gilmartin, Ldn (fight instigator, 10 min misconduct) 2:47, Porco, Os (high sticking) 18:46, McSorley, Ldn (boarding) 7:59 p.m.

Shots on goal from

Owen Sound 8 9 10-27

London 12 10 11–33

Goal: Chenard, Os (W, 23-21). Flores, Ldn (L, 4-10).

Power plays (goal chances): Os 1-5. Ldn 2-4.

Referees – Chris Ferreira, Ryan Harrison. Linesmen – Brad Horan, André Grougrou.

Att—8,531.

Stars – 1. Nicholas Porco, Attack; 2. Deni Goure, Attack; 3. Cody Morgan, Knights.

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